Independent Reading Project: Summer of My German Soldier
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Independent Reading Project: Summer of My German Soldier
What are the long-term and short-term impacts of war on human life and existence?
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Family

Family | Independent Reading Project: Summer of My German Soldier | Scoop.it

     During times of war, relationships are tested. This is very evident in the life of Patty Bergen. She has beliefs that are different than those of her father. Patty's father has a power over her that doesn't allow her to express her values. One example is the friendship between Patty and Freddy Dowd, a neighborhood boy. Though the reason is never stated directly, Patty's father doesn't approve of Freddy. One time, when Freddy and Patty were playing marbles, her father called her inside. "...he didn't ever want to catch me playing with that Dowd boy, not ever again. I didn'tunderstand why. 'Buy why can't I? He's very nice.' 'Are you questioning me?' my father demanded. 'Are you contradicting me?'" (41)

     Patty questions her father like that quite often, which angers him. Throughout "Summer of My German Soldier", Patty's father threatens and even hits Patty. She realizes that she doesn't love her own father, simply because they disagree on many topics. Patty's love for Anton Reikier, a German soldier, would never be accepted by Mr. Bergen. Their disputes distance Patty and her father, and Patty's mother often gets caught in the middle. Differences of opinions about racism and people from other countries can hurt families, as it does to the Bergen family.

     War can have a huge effect on the relationships between family members. Whether it be between a deployed soldier and his wife or between a daughter and father at home, the stresses of war can strain any relationship. Beliefs that are formed about other people during the judgemental times of war can put a wedge between people, and that wedge can stay the duration of the war, or for the rest of their lives.

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Freedom

Freedom | Independent Reading Project: Summer of My German Soldier | Scoop.it

     Freedom, or the lack thereof, is an important feature of war. It has a great impact on many families. Soldiers are often held prisoner in strange countries. Prisoners lose the freedom to express themselves and to do what they want. Anton Reiker was a German prisoner of war who escaped from the prison he was being held in in Arkansas. A conversation between a reporter named Charleen Madlee and a doctor by the name of Dr. Robinson revealed Anton's desire for freedom.

     "'Then in your opinion,' said Charleen, 'he didn't escape for the purposes of joining forces with the eight U-boat saboteurs?' 'Oh, I suspect he wanted his freedom and nothing more.'" (112-113) Dr. Robinson believed that as an escaped prisoner, Anton simply wanted his freedom back, not that he was planning an attack with other escaped prisoners.

     Being held against one's will can impact a person's outlook on life. Is it worth it to continue living without freedom in a strang place? Is it worth it to try and escape to freedom? These questions and more may race through the mind of a prisoner of war.

     In "Summer of My German Soldier", Patty Bergen is essentially a prisoner of war as well. After being charged as a juvenile on a count of treason, Patty is sent to The Japser E. Conrad Arkansas Reformatory For Girls in Bolton, Arkansas. Patty loses her freedom and individuality, being trapped in a strict school with no friends.

     Whether a person is being held in prison, or in a reformatory school, losing freedom can have a big impact on life. Not having loved ones near can hurt a family and have effects on a person's state of mind. A person could go crazy being forced to stick to a dull routine in which no individuality can be expressed. And for those reasons, freedom or the lack of freedom can impact lives of all involved in war.

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Labels

Labels | Independent Reading Project: Summer of My German Soldier | Scoop.it

     Similar to discrimination, labels have an impact on life during war. People, despite their beliefs, are viewed as how they look on the outside, and their blood relations with others. If someone is German, they are viewed as a Nazi, whether they stand by Hitler's beliefs or not. And if a person from Germany didn't look a certain way or follow a certain religion, they were viewed as an outcast, and discriminated against. In Arkansas, Patty Bergen witnessed a lot of adults simply viewing others and labeling them. "As they walked towards the entrance of the store the backs of their shirts revealed for all the world to see the stenciled black letters: POW." (40)

     Patty's dad owned the store that the prisoners were entering. He acted as if he were a polite store owner, selling the prisoners hats. But he didn't reveal that he was labeling them in his mind. "'Tell the boys to come over to the hat department,' my father said as though he didn't hate them. As if he had never said, 'Every German oughta be taken out and tortured to death.'" (40)

     Labeling the prisoners, despite what they might actually believe, adds to the discriminatory attitude displayed by the people of Arkansas in "Summer of My German Soldier". Once a soldier has a label, he can't get rid of it. But the labels change depending on where you are. A German soldier in Arkansas during World War II would recieve the label of a Nazi. But a German soldier in Germany would recieve the label of a hero, risking his life for his country.

     No matter what a person is viewed as, labels have a larg impact on life during war. People will label others even if they don't realize they are doing it. The labels can range from rich to poor to Nazi to hero, and that label is carried around everywhere. A person is no longer an individual with varying beliefs and values. A person is his label.

    

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Discrimination

Discrimination | Independent Reading Project: Summer of My German Soldier | Scoop.it

     In "Summer of My German Soldier", Patty Bergen faces the difficulties of war at only age 12. She is forced to decide between right and wrong, and to look at how other races are viewed in war time.

     Patty meets Anton, a German prison escapee, and falls in love with him. She views him not as a Nazi, but as a well-educated German man who was forced to fight in the war. Anton doesn't discriminate against Patty, who is a Jewish American. Instead, he treats her like a friend. For the first time, Patty feels like she has found someone who understands her.

     A friend of Patty's, named Edna Louise, doesn't understand Patty. When she is told of Anton, Edna Louise responds with, "'A German prisoner!' repeated Edna Louise. 'That's almost as bad as going out with a nigger!'" (55) Edna Louise's response shows how much even young kids are influenced to discriminate against those who aren't white americans.

     Racism and discrimination are long-term impacts of war. They effect the lives of everyone involved in war because war is about nationalism. Nations are patriotic and come together to support their troops. Any other races or peoples of different nations aren't accepeted. This view on other nationalities can stick for a long time, causing hatred among many countries.

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